Lovely, lovely books: some recent book design triumphs

Yesterday I got this in the post: Farrar Strauss Giroux’s beautiful new box set edition of Roberto Bolano’s acclaimed 2666, which I’m very much looking forward to reading.


Isn’t it great? I wish more publishers would consider this format for new books, as I’m afraid I’m not a fan of weighty hardbacks unless I know it’s a keeper already, and usually have to wait for the paperback. It got me thinking about book design – which I do a lot anyway – and thought I’d share some recent beauties I’d chanced upon.

Here’s a sample of Jesse Walker’s recent work for Stephen Hall’s Raw Shark Texts:

I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of the book, but I love Jesse’s faux-letterpress style, and the deconstructed typewriters in the rest of the work, which you can see here, or visit the rest of his portfolio here.

David Pearson, formerly top designer at Penguin, has recently produced a range of beautiful books with pattern-based jackets by a number of illustrators for his new Classics imprint White’s Books:

There’s an interview with him over at Creative Review, where he talks about the design, and the typography of the books:

Unusually, the illustration wraps right around the cloth-bound case, and uses a combination of pms colours and foil blocking. Internally, illus­trative endpapers and a decorative title page are joined by an unusual text setting method rarely seen in the last hundred years. Each right-hand page sports what is known as a ‘catchword’: a hanging word that provides the opening of the following page. This aids the flow of reading, especially when using a larger, heavy page with a slow turning rate.

I do like the sound of that ‘catchword’, a new one on me. Expect to see it cropping up if Bookkake gets round to big, fat books.

Sticking to the Penguin theme, which is hard to avoid, I do love Penguin’s new horror covers:

Did I mention I’ve been reading loads of Lovecraft? He’s awesome, go out and get some. There’s an interview with Coralie Bickford-Smith, the designer of these editions, over at the Penguin blog.

Meanwhile, at, I’ve been spending a lot of time scanning through Felix’s great collection of modernist book design from Germany and Switzerland. Gems like these:

Plenty more where they came from.

Finally, I can’t help mentioning Penguin again, because the new Bond anthology was designed by my friend Fabian, and it’s really, really, good-looking:

For the type geeks out there, the font there is FF Trixie, which uses clever font technology to deliver a slightly different letterform each time, like a real typewriter. More at Update: Fabian says it wasn’t Trixie at all, but his own serious skills. Just so you know…

That’s enough to be getting on with for now. I’m a bit of a nutter for this sort of thing, so I’m sure we’ll return to it. Less Penguin next time, I promise. If you see anything nice, do let us know.

Posted November 21, 2008 by James Bridle. Comments Off on Lovely, lovely books: some recent book design triumphs

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